Train track network to link Asian nations

Train lovers and travel nuts have long had a dream of going from Europe to Singapore by rail.

The journey to the East goes well as far as China, and the upgrading of tracks – sometimes with high-speed trains – is easing passage as far as Hong Kong.

From then on south, the rail buff, and potential cargo carriers, must wait just a few more years.

Diplomacy and funding from France and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have been agreed for the next step, from China to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

And there are more routes being built from Kunming in the Chinese province of Yunnan.

Regional transport specialists told the BBC that two-thirds of the line from Kunming to the Chinese side of the border is completed, and a project is under way on the Vietnamese side to Lao Khai on the border.

It will be possible to catch a train, or put a container on a train, from Singapore to Phnom Penh within two years, and from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City within five years.

The details are what you would expect. Just forget the Westerners recollection of coolies toiling like disturbed ants. That’s been dissipating since 1949.

Regional giants, Euro corporations with an interest in long-term global commerce participate in this vast new enterprise – as Asians have come to expect.

Americans think freight trains are those things that slow them down when they drive through small towns in Texas.

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